Marketing PSA: Do You Know What And Where Your Data Is?

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Katrin Ribant, co-founder and chief solutions officer at Datorama.

Doomsday – also known as May 25, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect – has come and gone. Aside from a flurry of emails flooding our inboxes around May 25, GDPR wasn’t as scary as it was cracked up to be.

But that doesn’t mean trouble isn’t lurking around the corner. There are still many unknowns surrounding GDPR, and marketers will do themselves some good by remaining proactive.

If marketers are still seeking to cover their bases, they may want to take note to better understand how marketing technology companies prepared and adapted their processes for this new age of data privacy and protection.

AdExchanger’s Allison Schiff recently suggested that marketers “need to engage in a detailed data mapping exercise to figure out how data flows through the organization, including what data is being collected, how it’s collected, where it’s stored and who has access.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Marketers are being tasked with an ever-increasing amount of accountability. Not only are marketing professionals concerned with high-level campaign performance but they also want – and need – to know how their efforts are making a direct impact on consumers. To do this properly, marketers need to be keenly aware of the different means at their disposal to gather customer intelligence and the best practices to collect data about their prospects.

One of the most effective ways to do so is through web forms. These forms are implemented on websites and applications using data collection capabilities from systems such as ad servers, web analytics, CRM and marketing automation platforms.

For example, consider this typical scenario: A marketing team launches a new campaign initiative for a product and creates a microsite for the campaign, which could be for a movie premiere, new car launch or  loyalty program promotion for baby formula. To measure the effectiveness of the program, different teams spring into action.

The media agency will need to install ad server tags, which are typically used to count conversions. The loyalty team will want forms that capture client or lead information handled by its CRM and marketing automation systems. The web team will need web analytics tags installed to manage site performance by counting visits and understanding engagement. The mobile team will implement its own software development kit to measure installs and interaction on devices.

Many of these systems have custom fields that allow for even more granular and specific data capture. These custom variables or fields can capture any data that they are set up for, such as device ID, IP address or location.

This may sound like a lot of work but for a more realistic picture of what marketers are dealing with, multiply this scenario by the number of implementations required for a pan-European campaign and by however many people will be involved in the setup of the assets.

The end result is an unlimited amount of data that needs to be accounted for and compliant – all originating from different sources and channels. This complexity makes vetting quite hard, and due to the nature of the risk involved, marketers should consider establishing the right teams and systems.

A compliance team can conduct an audit of all current data sources and set up and maintain data auditing processes for their tagging platforms. This includes internal briefings and guidelines, along with clear ownership and responsibilities assigned to specific personnel.

Second, a system is needed to gather captured data so the team can easily access it and analyze the respective fields to ensure compliance.

On the surface these may seem like obvious steps to take, but the truth is not all marketers have the comprehensive insight they need into their data to understand the full impact of GDPR. As the marketing mandate increases, so does the granularity needed to succeed.

Follow Datorama (@Datorama) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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